Reducing The Energy Cost Of Running A Salt Water Pool Chlorinator

by Al
(Sacramento, CA )

Salt Water Pool Chlorinator

We just switched to a salt water pool and am told the pool pump needs to run 5 - 7 hours per day for the chlorinator to maintain good pool water quality.

When we had a fresh water pool we only ran the pool pump for 2 - 3 hours to keep clean the 20,000 gallon swimming pool, and had the floater with chlorine tablets.

To reduce the electricity cost, which can be as much as $.41/kWhr, are we o.k. still adding some chlorine tablets in a floater, so we do not need to run the pool pump for as many hours with our new salt water system?

Thanks for the question Al

I can understand your concern for wanting to run your salt water chlorinator and pump less to conserve energy while still maintaining a clean and safe swimming pool.

As a general rule, most pool guys will tell you to run your pool pump 4 - 6 hours in the Winter (provided you don't winterize your pool) and 10 - 12 hours in the Summer for best filtration. Many people do this at night because in parts of the country the electricity is less during the evening hours.

I would start there.

You also need to keep an eye on your cyanuric acid level (CYA).

Adjust Your Swimming Pool Chlorine

This is the stabilizer for your pool chlorine which is found in your chlorine tablets and this level can get away from you if you're not testing for CYA. If it's not in the range of 30 - 50ppm then your chlorine won't be as productive.

Keep your chlorine tablet floater full in the Summer but remember to test, at least bi-weekly, for CYA.

Get a good Reagent FAS-DPD K-2005 or 2006 test kit and learn how to use it.

Swimming Pool Water Testing Kit

Concerning the amount of time to use your salt water chlorinator, I can tell you what I do at the YMCA. This is a commercial 80,000 gallon pool that sees about 4500 swimmers per month.

Swimming Pool Chlorine Generator

Your salt water chlorinator still produces hypochlorous acid (chlorine) which is the sanitizer for your pool and is to be tested.

Many salt water chlorinators can be adjusted for optimal use and chlorine production by dialing in the percentage of the time the pool needs for optimal chlorination.

If you go to the above link you'll see a box called "Chloromatic". This box allows me to adjust the percentage of time the in-line salt water chlorinator is running. Normally I have it adjusted to 45 - 50%, which means that for every 60
minutes of filtration the salt chlorinator is running for about 27 - 30 minutes. (27 divided into 60 = 45%)

By doing that it allows me to keep the chlorine level between 3.5 - 4.5ppm. A higher percentage and the chlorine will slowly start to kreep up and we're using too much salt. Any lower and the pool chlorine level will slowly come down. So I found that 45 - 50% is the right combination of chlorine use vs. pool use.

And that's what you should be looking for with your salt water chlorinator; how often are you going to use the pool while keeping the pool chlorine level between 1.5 - 3.5ppm?

I would be weary of someone just making a statement and telling you to run you salt water chlorinator at, say 10%, and not ask how often is the pool being used, how many people at one time use the pool, etc... obviously more use will require a higher percentage.

Those are the issues that need to be addressed.

If you keep your salt water chlorinator at 45% but only use it a couple of times per week I can almost guarantee your pool chlorine level will probably go through the roof very quickly because there's not enough demand to use up the chlorine.

Each pool use is different and there are many factors concerning the amount of chlorine used so I would tell you to start low, say about 5% and make the adjustment in the evening, then test your chlorine in the morning and write down the pool chlorine level. Allow it to go all day or swim as you would normally swim, then test the chlorine level once more after your finished.

If you're still in the ideal range of 1.5 - 3.5ppm then you'll know you're right on track and you'll also have the right amount of time to run your filtration system. If the chlorine level is too low then try 10%, record the chlorine level, and do the above again. Your goal is the dial in the correct amount of time your filtration system is running and the amount of time your salt water chlorinator is producing chlorine.

Once again, every pool is different. Some salt water chlorinators may run 15%, 20% or higher but that's because they are being used more often and with heavier bather loads and the filtration system will need to be run longer as well.

Try the above, make small adjustments, record your findings, and in a very short period of time you'll find the correct balance.

Thanks for your question and I hope this helps

All the best


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